Communicator of the Week: Brendan Rodgers

A little over a year ago the Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers was in danger of becoming a laughing stock. His team, a giant of world football, had just lost to lowly West Bromich Albion and were on their way to finishing 7th in the Premier League.

Rodgers was getting a reputation as someone you knew was about to enter the room as his ego walked in first. He was prone to talking what can only be described as bull**** to describe his vision for the “brand’ of football he wanted Liverpool to play. His quotes were so infamous that he was likened to David Brent.  

Now, Rodgers’ team are top of the league with a handful of games to go and have a chance to win their first title in 24 years. The turnaround on the field has been matched by a dampening down in the rhetoric from the manager off it. 

With modern sport being a blend of show-business, entertainment, business, as well as actual competition, modern managers play a very important part in how their team is perceived. Of course performance matters, but understanding the way a carefully placed quote in a managerial press conference can set the tone for the weekend’s newspaper coverage is a crucial part of a manager’s job.

This can put pressure on rivals or deflect it away from your own team if done well.

For example, as the race for the Premier League title nears its end reporters will want to identify the team who are feeling the pressure. Rodgers dealt with this comfortably ahead of Liverpool’s defeat of Spurs at the weekend by simply stating: “we are playing with no fear”. He also didn’t try and dodge the questions and admitted that Liverpool were favourites to win the game where previously he might have been less open and honest.  

Now, instead of undermining the reputation of his team and club, Rodgers is getting it right again and again. He is still showing an immense amount of self-belief and a willingness to back his players but he is now – mostly – using plain language and saying it as it is. At times Rodgers can slip into footballing cliché – “one game at a time” – sometimes playing a straight bat is far better than trying to win a game with a six to use a metaphor from another sport.    

Rodgers once said that: "a squad is like a good meal – I’m not a great cook but a good meal takes a wee bit of time, but also to offer a good meal you need good ingredients.” It looks as if Rodgers now understands how his role extends to his dealings with the media and that this too is a crucial ingredient for success which is why Brendan Rodgers is my Communicator of the Week. 

Communicator of the Week is written by Ed Staite.

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